A few new additions to Geegeez Gold in this past week, and the video below showcases them.
The highlight is probably the extension of Instant Expert to display form profiles for trainers, jockeys and sires as well as horses. That's an especially powerful angle in races where this is very little form to go on.
We've also added Official Rating (OR) to Full Form, as well as the latest odds; and we've included a Reset button for those who, like me, use the filters a fair bit.
Finally, we've cosmetically enhanced the racecards menu layout to make the colour scheme congruent with the dark blue throughout the site, and we've added horse names as well as numbers for non-runners on our results page.
Christmas is over, the New Year hangover has long since dissipated, and we've seen the back of the embuggerance of Blue Monday, supposedly the year's most miserable day. Looking forward, we're now more than a month past the shortest day of the year and we're gaining light at a rate of around quarter of an hour a week. I'm not going to lie, that last one is massive for me! Dark mornings are so depressing.
Anyway, on we go and we have much to look forward to, including in the little ray of joy that is Geegeez Gold. Our next updates are due imminently, and I've outlined them in the video below. If you prefer, underneath the video are some words and pictures to the same end.
Instant Expert for Trainers, Jockeys and Sires
Taking the existing much-loved traffic-light colour-coded (three hyphenated words in a row, eh?) format we use for horse form profiling against the day's race conditions, we've extended that to cover the other key entities of trainer, jockey and sire. It looks familiar, though in most cases the sample sizes will be bigger and, I hope, at least as meaningful.
The percentage cutoffs for green, amber and red vary from entity to entity, and from win to place, based on some reasonably robust science, details of which will be in the User Guide for those who like to understand the workings out as well as the answer.
Analyzer? Analyser? Whatever, this is another extension of an existing feature, this time 'globalising' (globalizing?!) the pace tab. Enabling users to look at the impact of pace - or, more specifically, early run style - across a range of different scenarios, the major difference is the ability to review distance ranges rather than a specific race distance as is currently the case within the pace tab.
[N.B. These are test data currently, so the numbers are not reliable!]
Notes and Ratings
The big new 'coming soon', though perhaps the one with the most niche audience, is that we'll be facilitating the creation and storage user defined notes and ratings.
In a few weeks' time, those wishing to will be able to add notes for race meetings, individual races and individual runners; and to calculate ratings for entire fields based on the winner's figure and a pounds/length multiplier. These data will be stored and visible in Full Form to the user. They will also be downloadable as csv for offline analysis.
In a later stage, we'll incorporate timing information to enhance the sophistication and accuracy of our new ratings feature.
Of course, if this is not your bag, no dramas - the default result format will be as you see it now, i.e. none of the new bobbins in the image above.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/img_5c49a793d3b0f-e1548330983473.png13362648Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngMatt Bisogno2019-01-24 12:08:342019-01-24 12:10:47Coming Soon to Geegeez Gold
I received an email yesterday from a subscriber, Jack, who was struggling to make Gold work for him. He had a fairly set way of doing things on another site (absolutely fine, of course) and the migration to Geegeez was a challenge. Of course, we humans largely resent change - I certainly do!, so there's needs to be a good reason for making the switch. I like to think that we offer a plethora of such good reasons.
Anyway, in answering Jack's email, I thought the content might be useful to others, so I've reproduced his questions and my responses below. I will try to do occasional case studies like this to help introduce the various elements of Gold, and how you might incorporate them into your own betting.
OK, here goes - Jack's note first, and then my reply:
Thanks for taking the time out for this. As I said to Chris I don't know how you guys manage to fit everything in to 24 hours/day!!??
Anyway here goes.
I use Classes 3 - 5 handicaps up to 1 mile on the flat and Classes 2 & 3 handicap chases up to 3 miles over jumps. Prefer to see no 3YOs in flat races and so prefer the 4+ races to the 3+ but they're a bit scarce after the first month or two. 3YOs can make big improvements as they grow stronger with age and gain experience but unfortunately there's no way to calculate that.
On the flat I like to find horses which have previously run well at the course and distance and have a chance when comparing today's OR to their last few runs and hopefully their run/s at today's CD, using the admittedly over-simplistic 1lb/1pt OR for each length beaten no matter the distance. I prefer the race to be at the same class or below that of it's usual races.
As an example if we stick with Joegogo in the 7.45 at Chelmsford on Thursday I can immediately see that 6 runs ago it ran in a class 3 over CD and came 4th of 6 but only beaten 2L, that it is now 6pts OR better off in today's race and, hovering over the race to bring up the comments, I note that it led in that race, faded late on and lost 2 places. I would expect it to do better in this weaker race so should at least make the frame. Looking at its last 3 races there are conceivable (admittedly a bit feeble) excuses for all of them! 3RA Wolves - came after a break so maybe not completely wound up, 2RA Southwell couldn't get the lead, LTO Lingfield, not a course brilliant for front runners and faded in final furlong over 6f. Now back at 5f.
Will be interesting to see if Adam Kirby again takes the ride although I would prefer a good apprentice to a) take a bit of weight off and b) hopefully deflect the bookies/other backers away from the horse - Adam's presence on it's back would probably lose a couple of points but would at least point to the horse being fit and well and having a chance.
All the above takes me only a minute or two, having done it for so long.
I would then switch to GeeGeez Gold to check the draw, pace and to quickly find out how the other runners in the previous Chelmsford race did as well as its last 3 races. Unfortunately this can only be a rough guide as without digging deeper there's no way of telling if those that have run since did so in better or worse races. If a horse/s still looks promising on Gold I would then go back to the RP to do the deeper digging.
Over the jumps I simply look for horses which have been running in better class races than today's. Not too bothered about the OR. Look to back those which have previously done well at the same type of course as todays, if not having run there before e.g. tight left/right handed, left handed galloping etc. So if a horse has been running well at say Market Rasen, Ludlow and Taunton I wouldn't be in a rush to back it at a left handed galloping course. Having backed horses since Blakeney won the Derby back in 1968 I know all the courses by heart so that only takes a couple of seconds. I don't bother over much with either the distance (as long as it's under 3m) or the going over jumps as I've missed winners doing that. I think the 'sloggers' come into their own once past 3m and find it difficult to evaluate those races.
In both codes I don't check how the trainer's doing - if badly then maybe today's runner will be the catalyst for a revival in stable fortunes! And if a 7lb claimer hasn't scored yet then maybe today's the day! So maybe I look a bit too much on the bright side! Also, as Gold has good info on trainers, jockeys and combos etc, I do realise that I'm not using it to its full extent but think that sometimes simple is better.
As I mentioned before all the above does not take long on the RP site as I've been doing it for years and I can fairly quickly go through all the runners in a race but it seems much slower for me when I use the Gold site. Maybe it's just a case of getting quicker as I use Gold.
The other thing that bothers me about Gold is that sometimes the draw advantage seems to come from relatively few races, especially when compared to FlatStats as I mentioned before. I like the way FlatStats lays it out e.g.'472 horses from 44 races analysed. Date range: 11-Jan-15 to 06-Dec-18' and followed by the charts. As it's free for this I tend to use it quite often.
Well that's enough of my ramblings and please don't spend much of your precious time looking for ways to help - I'm probably beyond help anyway!
All the best
Some really good and interesting points - and here is my reply...
There is nothing in what you do that cannot be done on Geegeez. Regarding race selection, you can use the filters on the cards menu – I’ve filtered for C3-5 flat handicaps today in the first image below.
Race card menu filters for handicap, race code and race class
Course and distance form: best view is Full Form, where you can select the ‘course’ and distance’ filters. Joegogo Chelmsford example below. I’ve also checked Proximity Form there, which gives a traffic light view of how well the horse ran based on race distance and beaten lengths. Also on Full Form, you can see DR and RS columns: they tell you the draw – in this case six (of six) – and run style, in this case Led. Filtering a horse’s form by wins and/or places often highlights a pace preference/requirement; it also offers clues as to whether a horse ran well from a poor draw, or poorly from a good draw, etc. Finally, at the right side of the form line in Full Form, you can see that the race in question has R W P W% P % - that shows the subsequent form of the race. In this example, 18 runs, 0 wins and 3 places. So not spectacular in truth.
Full Form with Proximity form, Course and Distance checked
Checking Instant Expert will reveal overall form at the respective course, distance, class and field size (going too). The final column compares today’s OR with the horse’s last winning OR in this code. Again below is Joegogo, where we can see he’s four pounds below his last winning OR on the all-weather. (I have my settings to last 2 years form, and race code/hcap contextual – i.e. when it’s a handicap, this view is only showing me handicap form, and when it’s all-weather, it’s only showing me all-weather form; when it’s both, it’s only showing my AW handicap form).
Instant Expert shows form against the race conditions, and also an OR comparison against the last win in this code
For the jumps, you could use the Class Move report as a starting point – it’s here – and sort by those dropping in class. See image below. The reports are a treasure trove, and it’s worth spending a little time messing around with them, as you’ll discover all sorts of ‘ins’ to various races.
Class Move report can be sorted to show those horses stepping down (or up) the most in grade today
Regarding looking for horses which have done well on today’s type of course, again Full Form has filters for course direction, general profile and specific profiles, so you can easily see how your potential class droppers have fared on similar tracks. I personally think trainer form is more important than you do (!), but I always check the place percentages as well as the wins. They tell far more of a story than the headline win numbers. (We have green and red form indicators on our racecards, but I never use those without checking the place data, as I say).
Going for me is only important when it’s heavy or good to firm (jumps, firm on the flat). Extremes isolate the proven types, and I have a ‘rule of two’: once may be a fluke, twice almost certainly was not.
On the matter of draw, I think one needs to find the right balance between enough data in the sample, and the data being relevant to today’s race conditions. For example, looking at seven runner races is not useful when considering a 16 runner race. Looking at all data is not terribly useful when considering a soft ground flat race (the draw bias can change almost 100% from firm to soft at some tracks). We have dropdowns on our draw tab, but more than that we have ‘guide lines’ which show ‘all going’, ‘all field sizes’, and ‘all races’, so you can see how the ‘micro’ dataset relevant to today’s going and field size maps against the bigger (but less specific/relevant) datasets. I’ve included an example from Southwell today, where you can see that the overall draw data (fainter lines) would mislead you when compared against the specifics for today – also note that I again tend to use place data as it is more comprehensive.
The fainter lines show that the overall draw data might mislead a bettor. There is very little bias against today's conditions.
I do appreciate it’s a fair bit to take in, and obviously it’s different from RP because there’s a heck of a lot more on our site. But I think you’ll be able to absorb these different elements quickly enough if working on them one by one. Gravitate to Geegeez rather than trying to do it all in one go, that’s my suggestion.
But I will try to occasionally share something like the above.
If you're not currently a Gold subscriber and you've read this far, you must be interested in what you might be missing. Hopefully this has been an appetising little taster. If you've never tried Gold before, you can get access to everything for your first 30 days for just £1.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Best_Website_Gold.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngMatt Bisogno2018-12-11 09:47:292018-12-11 09:47:29Geegeez Gold Case Study #1
Last week, I invited you to send in your questions. About geegeez.co.uk, about racing, about betting. And you did. In your droves. So today, I've recorded a video to answer them all. It's long - two hours - so underneath the video box is a list of the questions and subject headings, as well as some resources to which I've referred in the recording. I hope you'll find (at least some of) it useful.
p.s. I've also managed to create a podcast version should you prefer to listen to the audio.
n.b. The number before the questions below is the point in the video at which you'll find that answer.
The number before the questions below is the point in the video at which you'll find that answer.
*Race Types and betting*
1:45 - How do you work out handicaps? - Kevin Clarke
22:55 - My Question is I am not sure what I am looking for in looking for winners. I use first expert to sort out horses that fit the greens this is the dogs. Then I look at pace to see if the selection has the credentials then I go to draw if flat and look at that. Then I pretty much lose the plot what do you look for after this. Thanks love the videos learnt so much From Geegeez. - John A
27:40 - I am a massive Placepot nut , any advice on this type of bet with regards to Gold would be much appreciated. What do you think of Colossus Bets which now offer this bet and any advice on the Cash Out option ? - Simon B
46:55 - What do you do to improve your strike rate - James T
49:35 - I would like to see more guidance on how you as an expert would go about picking a selection or 2, maybe a guided bet for a Saturday and big meetings. - Steve S
51:25 - Breeding and sales data snippet there is numbers after the stallion name, like 6,7f. What that figure means? What is your personal opinion about a very big break before start? Like over 200 days. I mean in the betting perspective. Is it better to leave those kind of horses without a bet? Thank you for excellent site! - Jussi A
54:15 - Hi Matt, forgive me if I’m wrong but I didn’t notice the ‘bringing it all together’ section on your last web tutorial thingy. I’ll admit to still struggling with gold as there is so much to look at & whilst i feel like I understand all of the individual components of full form, pace, draw & the reports, I’m still really struggling to know which ones to give the most weight/credence to & which ones to ignore as obviously they’re all pointing at different horses. If you could show how you sit down & attack a race cold or what starting points you use that lead you to a bet then that would help somewhat I think. I feel like you say ‘that horse could be of interest depending on other factors’ for example but then we didn’t really see you carry on that selection process to the end in any of those web shows. I appreciate you may have reservations about doing that as there’s so many different ways of using gold & you don’t want to ‘prescribe’it to us but I feel, if like me, you’re a new member who has previously tried & failed to make gold work for them, it’s incredibly frustrating to know that the relevant information is in there but i just can’t land on it with any confidence! - Iain M
59:07 - So, all in all, I’m probably in the mode of not being able to see the wood for the trees, almost too much information and not knowing how best to use it. I’m also probably guilty of looking for big priced winners rather than just winners and of the old fear of missing a winner so backing it regardless. As a rule, I have always been led by Horses for Courses, Ground specialists and runners back to a winning handicap mark and since joining Geegeez I do like the TJ combo. So, I guess this is a very open ended ‘question’ and probably not one you can easily answer, but given all of the above (and below) can you give me a steer to start making this excellent service pay for me a bit better please? I’m not looking to retire early or win a million, just nice steady returns and a bit of fun along the way. - Lee
1:03:30 - Can you see yourselves developing a geegeez mobile app in the future? Roy N
1:05:15 - First time headgear (report, and QT)
1:07:20 - Is it possible to add to the racecard, a going filter, to see if any of the red/green figures are changed, and the form figures can relate to such an update? Instant expert does show most of this but not if the trainer's or jockeys record without having to use full form screen. - Terry S
1:10:30 - why does the contextual breeding data/trainer data etc update so late in the day before the race? Before I used Geegeez I used to pick my horses at around 11am (just after declaration) and then place the bets in the evening. My mornings and evenings are busy so this worked best for me. I understand that you obviously wouldn’t change the way you do things just or me, but is it possible for this data to be uploaded earlier in the day? - Tom F
1:12:20 - would it be possible to add in a horses current Official Rating onto Full Form? Just that when you're looking at its past ratings, you need to minimise the window to look at the race card to see its current OR. - Eddie K
1:12:40 - Hi Guys, can I check the previous high /low prices of horses inplay ..ie if a particular horse has generally shortened in running - Michael M
*Staking / Tipsters*
1:13:30 - I am really disappointed with SOTD , I am a yearly subscriber, it is very difficult to get BOG without being gubbed , however I do like you and your apparent honesty that's why I rejoined, but this service Stat Of The Day, leaves a lot to be desired, as I understand SOTD is found using your stats , so what does it say for using your stats. I hope that this does not come across as a knee jerk reaction , but this has been a long time coming, you asked for comments so here is mine ! - David H
1:18:40 - Do you have a forum/ group chat where you and other members send out their selections for the day? - Joe D
1:19:30 - I follow 3 or 4 racing tipsters, all have long term profitable records. However often they will tip different horses in the same race. What strategy should one adopt? Cover all, (split stake or not?) and therefore reduce overall return. Or if they tip same horse, should i increase stake? I would use separate betting banks, but wonder whether better to focus on just one tipster? - David E
1:21:28 - For many years l believed that doubles, trebles etc., were a mugs game and always stuck to win only successfully until l read somewhere that if you knew what you were doing with your selections they could be lucrative so brought this into my betting and found this so far to be true. What is your opinion on this? - Thomas
1:24:35 - I believe that you once wrote that raising stakes during a losing run was better than raising them during a winning run. Is my memory right. If not, what are your thoughts on staking. - Barry C
1:28:30 - When a new service goes live, why do all the tipsters I follow, have to blitz it, day afterday after day? It's blimmin annoying ,and 9times,out of 10, it turns out to be less than useless. But I'm at the stage now, where I am just deleting, and unsubscribing; so you can guess that I've missed some of the ones that, actually work. Could you just tell me, are they being paid ,for mentioning that service(which they've said they have proofed for infinity years)?? Actually, my own service is amazing: You'll never get any winners, but at least I'm up front, about it!! - Steven S
1:34:10 - Around the time of Goodwood Matt Chapman suggested that there were several odd SPs. Who determines the SP? Is this something the Bettor's Forum is concerned about. I think most bettors will put up with the occassional horse which wins out of the blue having been well backed. They like the idea of an old fashioned coup landed. The idea that the whole system is skewed against them is a different ball game. - Ben S
1:38:20 - As I consider the going on the day to be very important.Is there a way to get round the lies that most Clerks and the Bha are sending out. All the best and thanks for all the help over the years, - John
1:43:30 - I was told that Sportsbook at Betfair was covering single bets, with a pay out of up to £500.00 without having your account closed, is this really true? If so what about multiples, would they stand a higher amount on these? I am thinking mainly of football bets. By the way who owns Sportsbook or managers it? - Philip P
1:44:30 - Could I ask if you have heard of any bookies who have gubbed or restricted accounts offering reasonable bets on Class 1 or 2 races? - William J
1:46:30 - I have had my account with Skybet restricted although I don't think I have won much from them. Is this common as for the stakes I am using I cannot imagine I am much of a threat. I do only bet a small number of bets per year, maybe 70-80. - Geoff W
1:47:15 - I'd like to be pointed in the right direction regarding using the query tool please. I am sure this is a feature I do not use due to not understanding it - Paul E
1:49:05 - Thanks for being so open with your wealth of knowledge … much appreciated . I am a “systems” man and was just wondering what I should be accepting as a minimum figures for my systems if I would want to make it work on a more professional basis = win % / roi % sp / roi % bfair / “ a/e “ and or “chi” ?? (are the last 2 the same ?) - Brian C
1:53:35 - Would it be possible to re-do the QUERY TOOL recording I get the gist of it but your teaching has a lot to be desired. I take you have never taught in a class room as you have no synchronisation what so ever or lesson plan talk about wing and a prayer Or as you put it WINGING IT - Frank R
1:55:15 - I understand A/E and I/V at least in so much as anything over 1 is good. But if A/E is say .81 and I/V is say 1.3 does that indicate a negative stat .....I'm presuming that it does. - Mick S
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Video_QandA.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngMatt Bisogno2018-12-05 15:32:232018-12-06 16:41:15Your Questions, My Answers
We've just released another upgrade to Geegeez Gold, which includes the following key elements:
- Added TJ Combo 1 year to jockey inline form
- Upgrade to Full Form
- Added odds to Report Angles report
- Bug fixes
Here is a little more detail on each.
Trainer Jockey Combo 1 Year data added to Jockey inline form
We've now added a row to jockey form on the card that shows the jockey's performance with this trainer over the last twelve months. It looks like this, see the bottom row:
Full Form Upgrade
A few tweaks and enhancements to Full Form, as follows:
i. Added alternate row shading to past performance lines
ii. Added layoff blocks
iii. Added Draw (DR) and Run Style (RS) data into past performance lines
Full Form now looks like this:
A few quick notes.
The thickness of the layoff line indicates the length of the layoff, as you can see in the above. A horse is considered to have had a layoff if returning after 60 days or more.
Run Style notations are L - Led, P - Prominent, M - Midfield, H - Held Up, and U - unable to score (insufficient information in the comment).
The draw and run style info can be instructive when looking at horses' win and/or place data, where you will often see patterns hinting at a runner's preferred setup.
Odds on Report Angles report
We've added an odds column to the Report Angles report, like so:
This was in response to a user request. We always welcome user requests, though we cannot always accommodate them, for obvious reasons.
We have a few bug fixes to implement in the next fortnight or so, and that will be the last of the functional enhancements in 2018. The reason for that is we're undertaking a significant infrastructural change to our software. Once complete, we'll have a deal more flexibility in terms of the way we do things, particularly the speed with which we present results and such like.
This is a necessary change which should be complete by end January. After that, we'll get back to development, with the next big things being allowing users individual notes and rating spaces for races and runners; additional of 'last run' and 'second last run' data elements on Query Tool; and, potentially, the introduction of ratings pars (feasibility work underway).
Thank you as always for your support of Geegeez Gold. There is an almost infinite number of things we can do to enhance it still further, and 2019 looks like being another exciting year on the development roadmap!
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/NewFFF.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngMatt Bisogno2018-11-13 10:42:112018-11-13 12:40:08Geegeez Gold: Full Form Upgrades ++
Here at geegeez.co.uk we have a premium service called Geegeez Gold, which is currently on special offer. This post is dedicated to trying answer as many of your most frequently asked questions as I can think of. If I've missed one, either add a comment below or contact me and I'll add it in. Straight in, then, with the most obvious...
Q. What is Geegeez Gold?
A. Gold is a comprehensive service for people who bet on British and Irish racing. It includes racecards, form tools, reports, tipping, a tracker, query tools, and more besides. If you bet on racing in Ireland or the UK, Gold has something to help you do it better, regardless of how you bet.
Q. How do I join Geegeez Gold?
A. You can find out more, and get a heavily discounted Geegeez Gold subscriptionhere. Regardless of if you've ever tried Gold before, you will be entitled to a trial of the service so that you can see if it works for the way you bet. Alternatively, if you know you need it, you can claim a 30% discount on current prices.
From next week, prices will rise by 20% to £36 a month. But existing subscribers will continue to pay the rate at which they signed up. That is why I am making this special offer. 12 monthly subscriptions at £36 = £432. An Annual subscription during this offer is just £249, a saving of more than 40%.
A. If you decide take a trial rather than the bargain 'season' tickets, once your trial finishes, you will automatically be billed the monthly subscription. You may of course cancel at any time, including during your trial. And remember, the subscription rate you sign up at will be the rate at which you're locked in for as long as you remain a subscriber, regardless of future price rises.
Q. What if I forget to cancel?
A. It happens. We're all busy. If you forget to cancel during your trial period, contact us within the first month of full subscription and we'll arrange a refund of your payment (assuming you haven't been using the service, of course).
Q. Where do I start with Geegeez Gold?
A. Gold is a comprehensive package. It's designed that way. For some, it can be difficult to know where to start. The answer is different for everyone. The most sensible place to start is to pick up where you left off with whichever service you previously used.
For example, if you like to receive tips, then start with Stat of the Day, posted on site (and accessible from the home page) around 6pm each night before the next day's racing. Then check out the tipping threads in the forum, and check in on The Shortlist report (accessible from the reports menu).
If you're more interested in form, check out our racecards - and all of the content hiding behind the icons. Then take a look at the tools - Instant Expert, Draw and Pace, as well as Full Form Filter. Then get stuck into the Query Tool.
Or if you're just looking for a couple of interesting horses, use the reports. The Shortlist is a simple one with which to get started, but the real 'juice' can be found reports like Trainer/Jockey Combo, Handicap 1st Time, and Trainer Change reports (amongst others). It is well worth checking out Report Angles, too, once you're up to speed with our reporting suite.
The important thing is to take your time, and not to try to 'reinvent yourself' overnight.
See how we have enhanced the things you already do and use when betting, and build from there.
Q. Is there training for Geegeez Gold?
A. Yes! We have a range of Gold tutorials in your My Geegeez area. Also there, you'll find a 'READ THIS FIRST' link. Obviously, I recommend you read that first!
Then, make sure you check out the User Guide, also linked from My Geegeez. That's a big document these days so I'm not expecting that anyone will read it from cover to cover; but if you're using a new feature, flick to the relevant section to ensure you're 'doing it right' and that you're not missing anything.
Finally, we have our Gold Playbook. This is a series of videos and blog posts showing specific strategies and tactics for using various elements of the Gold toolkit. Oh, and I write on the blog every few days with further pointers.
Again, take your time with Gold. "Only fools rush in", as Elvis once wonderfully warbled. There's no rush.
Q. What if I get stuck?
A. If you've checked out the various help features and/or you don't know where to look for an answer, drop us a line! Chris, Steve and myself are always happy to help people get the best out of Geegeez Gold. And, unlike some faceless racing bureaucracies, we're real people who really care about your racing and betting enjoyment and success. So do get in touch whenever you need to. Our contact link is here.
Q. Can I join in on the forum?
A. Please do! We welcome new users introducing themselves and getting as engaged as they wish on our Gold subscribers' only forum. We have just two simple rules, to which we expect everybody to adhere: no pitch, and no bitch. So please don't be selling stuff (yours or someone else's) and please be nice.
Happily, everybody on our forum aligns with those basic principles which makes it a pretty friendly place to hang out. There is also some excellent tipping going on there, and some brilliant ideas and angles being explored. We'd welcome your involvement. Here's the forum link, which can also be found from the top (red) menu bar.
Q. What else do I need to know about Geegeez Gold?
A. geegeez.co.uk is an independently run site, designed and built by racing bettors for racing bettors. All of the writers and developers, and the creator, bet regularly on horse racing. As such, we 'get' what people want. (We also get that because I regularly survey subscribers asking how we can add more value).
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This is the fifth instalment in a series of articles looking at pace bias in 5f handicaps, writes Dave Renham. In previous articles (the first of which is at this link, subsequent ones linked to from there) I have looked at a variety of angles including examining courses, as some offer a stronger front running bias than others; I have looked at the Geegeez pace ratings and how top rated pace horses have performed in terms of win percentages and profit/losses; I have also looked at predicting pace.
The Actual Front Runner
In this article I am going to focus solely on the actual early leader (front runner) of each race to see whether there are any patterns or decent angles that can be gleaned from the data. I have looked at 200 races once again focusing on handicap races with 6 or more runners. I have not used races where it was unclear who led early (this happens roughly 3 times in every 100 races). At this juncture, it is important for me to note that I term the front runner or early leader to be the horse that takes the lead within the first furlong. If a horse has led for 50yds and then is overtaken I assume the front runner to be the horse that took the lead after 50yds, not the horse that led just for 50yds. For the record in most sprint handicaps the horse that takes the lead in the opening strides is still leading after 1 furlong.
My first idea was to look at the leaders and what their position had been in the Geegeez pace ratings. To recap, horses on the Geegeez pace-card have their last four runs highlighted with the most recent run to the left and each horse has an individual total for their last four runs. 16 is the maximum score and 4 the minimum (this is assuming they have had at least 4 career runs).
To begin with I decided to split the runners into “thirds” like I have done in the past for draw bias. Hence in a 12-runner race, pace rated 1 to 4 would lie in the top “third” of the pace ratings, those rated 5 to 8 in the middle “third”, and those rated 9 to 12 in the bottom “third”. It should also be noted that I also adjust the pace positions when there are non-runners – for example in a 10 runner race if the 3rd highest pace rated horse is a non-runner, then the horse rated 4th becomes 3rd, 5th rated becomes 4th rated, etc. Here then are the figures where the leaders/front runners came from in the pace ratings broken into ‘thirds’:
Top third of pace ratings
Middle third of pace ratings
Bottom third of pace ratings
As you can see the early leader came from the top ‘third’ of the pace ratings roughly 7 races in 10; in addition horses from the bottom third of the pace ratings took the early lead just once in every 15 races on average. This is a positive result – perhaps the result we might expect, but it is good to see that the Geegeez pace ratings clearly help in terms of pinpointing the area where we are most likely to find the actual front runner. It is also interesting to note that in races of 12 or more runners the early leader came from the top third of the pace ratings just under 75% of the time; in races of 8 runners or less this figure dropped to 64%. This suggests, albeit with relatively limited data that using the pace ratings to try and find the front runner works best in bigger fields.
To add some more ‘meat to the bones’ I have split the pace ratings into halves rather than thirds and the table below shows the breakdown:
Top half of pace ratings
Bottom half of pace ratings
Hence, when you are trying to predict the front runner in a 5f handicap, the Geegeez pace ratings look the best starting point. If you can essentially narrow the potential front running candidates down to 50% of the field or less, you are giving yourself a much better chance of predicting the early leader.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, front runners in sprints over this minimum trip do have a huge edge – in this sample 22.5% of all races were won by the early leader and 51.5% of front runners made the first three. Hence the more often we can successfully predict the front runner the better.
In terms of the 200 early leaders in this sample, I next looked at their last two races and combining these last two pace figures (maximum of 8). Here are the findings:
Pace total (last two runs)
Number of races ‘led’
Thus, 70.5% of all leaders had scored 6, 7 or 8 points in total when combining their last two pace scores. This data has a similar pattern to the top ‘third’ data for the last four races, as one would expect.
Just imagine if you were able to predict the front runner in every race - you would make a huge profit. Indeed if you could achieve this correct prediction around 70% of the time I would estimate you would still make very healthy profit; remembering even if the horse you picked as the front runner does not actually lead, it can still win!
In my fourth pace article I noted that just under 40% of top pace rated horses did actually lead; I did not though look at horses that were 2nd or 3rd pace rated. This time I have, and in 146 of the 200 races (73%) the early leader had been in the top three of the Geegeez pace ratings.
As I hope you can see, the Geegeez pace ratings do give an excellent indication of pace set up in a race. Whether you use the top third method; the last two runs method, or the top 3 in the ratings method.
In Play Options
There are of course other punting options in terms of front running ideas. One such idea is to trade the front runner ‘in play’. The argument for this approach is logical – front runners lose around 3 and a half times more often than they win so why not trade? Horses that lead in 5f handicaps generally contract in price so why not try to make the most of this fact? Now you could trade to achieve a free bet – eg back the horse at 11.0 pre-race and lay in play at 6.0. If the horses loses you get your stake back; if it wins you have a winning bet at 5/1.
Another option for traders is ‘dobbing’ - dobbing is a term I came across a few years back – I am not sure where it originates from, but basically ‘DOB’ means ‘double or bust’. Essentially if our bet/trade is successful, we double our original stake, if it is not successful we ‘bust’ or lose our stake. It may be easier to explain by giving you an example:
Let us imagine you back a horse pre-race at 8.0 for £10; in order to create a potential DOB you try and lay at half the odds for double the stake – so a lay at 4.0 for £20. If the horse hits 4.0 or lower in running, your lay bet will be matched and regardless of the result you will win £10 (less commission). Here is the simple maths behind the two potential winning outcomes - if the horse goes onto win the race you get £70 returned from the ‘back’ part of the bet; you lose £60 on the ‘lay’ part of the bet giving you that £10 profit; if the horse does not go onto win, you lose your £10 stake from the ‘back’ bet, but gain £20 from the lay stake – again giving you a £10 profit. Naturally, if the lay part of the bet is not matched you will lose your £10.
There are other ‘in play’ trading methods/options/ideas when it comes to front runners, but I don’t want to get bogged down looking at too many of these. Suffice to say, front runners tend to contract in price; some see their price drop dramatically.
In relation to this, one thing I wanted to look at was at what point was the early front runner overtaken? The longer a leader leads over 5f, in general the shorter the price will become ‘in play’. Here are my findings:
At what point was the front runner overtaken?
% of leaders
Not overtaken (led all the way)
Overtaken in final half furlong (within 110 yds of the finish)
Overtaken between the furlong pole and half a furlong from the finish
Overtaken 1.5f from the finish to the furlong pole
Overtaken between the 2 furlong pole and 1 and half a furlongs from the finish
Overtaken before the 2 furlong pole
This should make pleasing reading for would be ‘in play traders’ – over 55% of front runners are still leading at the furlong pole; nearly 80% are leading 1.5 furlongs from the finish. There will be many of you reading this who have seen your horse lead at the furlong pole only to get swallowed up or beaten close home; perhaps now you have a trading option/idea which could potentially take away some of that pain in the future!
Actual front runners by odds
Finally, I looked at the prices of the horses that led early. Here is a breakdown:
There were 61 leaders that started 5/1 or less;
There were 52 leaders that started between 11/2 and 9/1;
There were 51 leaders that started between 10/1 and 16/1;
There were 36 leaders that started 18/1 or bigger.
So a relatively even split. Again this is almost certainly good news for ‘in play’ traders as there is excellent scope for trading front runners that start big prices. Indeed of those bigger priced runners (18/1 or bigger) 17 of the 36 were still leading at the furlong pole (a handful of these went onto win).
I hope you have found this article interesting and given you further food for thought. Maybe there should be a Geegeez competition next flat season to see who can pick pre-race the highest percentage of front runners in 5f handicaps. In fact it doesn’t have to be restricted to 5f races – maybe 5 to 7f races. Anyway, one for Matt to think about perhaps!
- Dave Renham
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/ElAstronaute_Goodwood2017.jpg316830Dave Renhamhttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngDave Renham2018-08-20 07:35:322018-08-20 07:35:32The Importance of Pace in 5f Handicaps: Part 5
It's the eve of the two concurrent midsummer 'G' Festivals, Glorious Goodwood (as was. did you notice how inglorious the weather was once the name changed to the Qatar Goodwood Festival? Surely not coincidence!) on the rolling Sussex Downs, and the opening day of Galway's marathon week-long session in the west or Ireland. To emerge victorious from festival meetings at such quintessentially quirky configurations as these requires more than a 'mere' understanding of the form. Preparation for those serious about the week will start with an awareness of the layouts of the circuits and the implications on race shape.
Draw is rarely as simple - and occasionally not as complicated - as the pundits will tell you in their one line summaries. Let's review the courses.
These are Goodwood's helter-skelter pistes:
If you're confused, you'll not be alone. There is a tight right-hand loop, and a straight of a little shy of half a mile from which point the run in is pretty much all downhill - having been largely uphill to the turn.
Goodwood is a front-runner's track for a couple of reasons. Firstly, when horses get to the turn into the straight, they tend to fan wide, giving up ground, just at the moment the pacemaking railer is stealing a length or two. Secondly, horses held up for a later run often get caught in a pocket, with the far rail of the home straight cambering away from the grandstands.
Indeed, only one horse with an actual draw (i.e. number of stalls from the rail, after accounting for non-runners) higher than 13 in a mile handicap has managed to win at Goodwood since 2009. 107 tried. [Laa Rayb, the 2009 Totesport Mile winner, had an advertised draw of 15, but in fact broke 13 from the rail due to two non-runners inside him; it was Inside Story, from stall 16 of 16, who overcame the near impossible two months prior to Laa Rayb's more famous, but marginally less challenging, exploits].
The place to be, to a lesser or greater degree, is low and front rank, from seven furlongs to a mile. And yet... over nine furlongs, the bias shifts to high drawn horses who are waited with.
Wait. What?! How can the whole draw/pace bias be shifted on its head?
A theory, and only that, is that at this rarely raced intermediate distance - neither a mile nor a mile and a quarter - that starts with a stiff uphill climb, milers race too freely and run out of juice while ten furlong horses get outpaced before staying on late. As convoluted as it sounds, it may just be credible!
In handicaps over ten furlongs, in fields of 14+ runners (the race type and field size used for all of the above commentary), there seems little to no bias. Here they travel uphill for slightly longer, then take the outer loop - with its sharp top bend - before freewheeling down five furlongs or so of home straight. There is more time for jockeys to manouevre their horses to where they want them, and it seems a fairer track.
Most of the rain forecast has now been deposited and the going remains good, good to firm in places, so the draw data above ought to largely hold up...
Meanwhile, across the Irish Sea in Galway, there is a race for every racehorse. The programme covers the whole gamut from two year old maidens to exposed handicap chasers. Of course, we'll focus our attention on the flat handicaps. The layout is a little more straightforward here: a little, though not a lot...
Shaped like a diamond, features of the mile and a quarter Galway oval are sharp turns, undulations, and a stiff uphill quarter-mile run to the finish line. There is a shortish run from the seven furlong start to the first of two bends, both of which require wider drawn runners to either take back and wait or risk conceding ground on the turns.
Here is a snapshot of how draw and pace impacts the ability of horses to make the frame in Galway 14+ runner seven furlong handicaps.
Low strongly favoured over seven furlongs at Galway - handicaps, 14+ runners
And take a look at the draw and run style in combination for some real takeaways:
Correlation between draw and place chance; more pronounced, however, is the link between run style and post position
The first chart shows a fair linear correlation between stall position and ability to make the frame; but it is the heat map which interests more.
This is showing Actual vs Expected (see A/E in the dropdown top right). As you'll see on the right hand side, horses that can get to the front outperform market expectation regardless of stall position. We then have a gradation of colour from dark green (led) through amber (low mid div and middle prominent) to red (pretty much everything else). Except...
Look at the bottom left square - horses draw high and held up. On a reasonable sample of 66 runners (seven wins, 13 places) these waited-with types have fared a lot better than the betting public expected. This is most likely due to a perception that their draw cannot be overcome, which inflates the available odds. And, when there is too much pace on the front end, those ridden more patiently (and having to travel less wide due to the strung out nature of fields in such a context) can skulk through to pick up the pieces, granted the necessary fortune in running.
Also noteworthy is the lamentable performance of low drawn hold up horses. Such runners are 0 from 30, three places, in 14+ runner handicaps here since 2009. Those who race mid-pack are 1 from 85, 12 places (14% place rate), and can also generally be discounted.
Meanwhile, over a mile and half a furlong, the main note regards pace and hold up horses. The slow starters tend to be too late finishers, collectively recording a lamentable six wins from 216 runs in handicap fields of 14+. As you can see, it doesn't matter where they're berthed either. Alongside the 2.77% win strike rate is a 13% place record, so the message is clear: look elsewhere.
Horses which were held up were generally delivered too late, and are worth avoiding. Luck from mid-pack is needed over 1m 1/2f
Keep these specific pointers in mind and you'll have a leg up on the vast majority of punters at next week's 'G' Festivals. And if you want this kind of intel for all flat courses, distances, goings, field sizes and race types, there is only one place to get it: Geegeez Gold's Draw Analyser Tool. If you're not a Gold subscriber, you can find out more about Draw Analyser, and the rest of our form book and tool kit, here.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/goodwoodglorious.png320829Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngMatt Bisogno2018-07-30 09:20:392018-07-30 09:22:35Draw Biases at Galway and Glorious Goodwood?
We are this week introducing some exciting new features to Gold. As always, we anticipate that there might be a few early teething problems but, with your help and forbearance, we'll have everything bedded in by the end of the week, ready for the big races (King George, Goodwood, Galway) that follow.
So what are the changes? Good question, and I'm glad you asked...
There are three main areas that will be brought on stream during this week, as follows:
Choosing the right races to play
I don't know if you've noticed but there seems to be quite a lot of racing these days. Even race-to-race punters have their work cut out trying to keep tabs with the plethora of punting puzzles placed before them/us. So we thought - and it's thanks to Rory Delargy for the suggestion - we'd introduce some filters to help you cut to the chase, or the all weather sprint handicap, or whichever type of race you're particularly interested in.
Here's how they look:
New racecard filters will display only the races you are interested in
If you focus on sprint handicaps, just change the 'to' distance dropdown to 6f (or 7f or wherever your 'sprint' cutoff is) and ping the hcap switch on the right hand end. Voila! Sprint handicaps only. Only want the good stuff? No problem, change the 'to' dropdown under class to 3 (or 2 or 1) and presto, the good stuff.
Changed your mind and want all of it? There's a reset link top right. Not interested in all of this newfangled convolution? Click 'hide filters' and they'll be gone forever. Or at least until you click 'show filters'.
I appreciate these filters don't cover every eventuality: for instance, we could have differentiated for NH race type, or by age eligibility, or added presets for 'sprints', 'staying chases' and so on. But, you know, you can't please all the people all the time. Hopefully this is at least a step in the right direction, and perhaps just the ticket.
Settings are remembered, so if you only ever look at such races, they can be all you ever see in Geegeez Gold. Naturally, the power is entirely with you to flesh the shortlist out, or to abandon it altogether.
And, importantly I think, the default is that the filters are hidden apart from the link to show them. Many users won't want such functionality and we don't feel the traditional presentation is especially broken, so in that regard we'll not try to fix it for those already happy. If you, like me, are a tinkerer, however, hit the show filters link and muck about a bit!
Hitherto, we've had two views of the world: a full (i.e. traditional) breakdown by meeting, and a compact version, with tiles containing the race times. We've slightly tweaked them for the purposes of the filters, and also added a third view, by time. That one looks like this:
Racecards by time, with filters applied
In the example above, I've filitered by Class (1-5), by runners (8+) and by distance (5f-7f). I've also selected handicaps only. And hot diggity, there's my shortlist of three races - from a longlist of 42! - to go at. Uncluttered, no time investment to get there, just simply what you need without distraction.
There is one small but useful change on the main cards, which is the addition of links to 'Course Info' on the right side of the meeting title:
Course Info links appear to the right for all UK racecourses - Irish courses coming soon
And the actual info pages look like this:
Quite useful, hopefully.
Hide the odds
One other thing on views. Actually, on no views. We've added an option to hide the odds from the cards for those who like to form their opinions 'blind' to the market, as requested by Neil O'Connor. It's a really good way of not being influenced by other people and focusing on your own work; and I'd actually recommend to anyone with the time that reviewing one race a day in this manner will improve your judgement enormously.
Here's the option, found under Options on My Geegeez (which is found in the top right of the main website menu bar):
Remember to click UPDATE after making changes!
The cards then look like this:
No right side odds column. Odds also removed from Instant Expert, Pace, and Odds tabs. Reinstate from My Geegeez
Odds are also hidden on Instant Expert, Pace, and Odds tabs. They can be reinstated from the My Geegeez options.
Draw on Instant Expert
One more small change on the cards, this time to Instant Expert, where we've added in a draw column - it was requested by at least half a dozen users, so no names but thank you for the suggestion! That's pretty handy when you've established a probable draw bias and want to see which horses are otherwise best suited to conditions.
For example, there seems to be a low bias over six on fast ground at Catterick. In the 5.10 race, all the horses best suited to conditions are drawn high. With plenty of pace low, could this race be set for an upset?
A new draw column - Dr - has been introduced to Instant Expert
OK, what else?
Report Tweaks: Deeper Insights
Reports are still reports, the data remains exactly the same, but... we've added a bell and a whistle.
The bell is a little ^ dropdown on the left hand side which, when clicked, shows the line-by-line historical performance for a given report entry. Here's an example taken from the one year view on the Trainer Jockey Combo report today.
Clicking the ^ (blue box, left side) reveals the historical performance data in the larger blue box below. Clicking anywhere in the actual R O'Brien-Chris Hayes row reveals their runner(s) today (green boxes). Simple, and even more illuminating than our reports already were!
Historical performance data can be viewed inside certain reports as of this week
This feature is available on the following reports:
Trainer/Jockey Combination Statistics
Trainer Handicap 1st Run [Code]
Trainer 2yo 1st Start
Export to csv
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed the other tweak, the aforementioned whistle. It is the ability to drop any chosen sub-report (e.g. TJ Combo 1 Year view) into a spreadsheet for further manipulation. Here's an example of how that looks:
Gold users can now export report data to csv for further inspection
The left side of the data (columns A-K) show the overall performance on the report (in this case, Trainer/Jockey Combo), and the right side (columns L-V) shows details relating to the qualifiers for that given entity (e.g. that trainer and jockey combination, in this example).
And what of the third part of this release? Perhaps we've saved the best for last...
QT Angles: Could this permanently change the game for you?
This piece of work has been difficult, and I don't think we're fully there yet; but we are in sufficiently good shape to let you have at it if you so wish. QT stands for Query Tool and it's our rudimentary analysis tool. I say 'rudimentary', because there are more extensive options out there, like horseracebase.com for example, which is excellent.
But I wanted to bring a user's work into his or her racecard display, front and centre. And that's where QT Angles comes in. In time, it could be the game changer. It's actually a three part piece, which starts - naturally enough - in the Query Tool. Once you've researched an angle - simple example below - you can save it as an Angle.
Step 1 - Research angle:
Step 2 - Save to ANGLES:
Choose a name, and click 'Add Angle'. To view upcoming runners, click 'View Runners'.
Once you are happy with a query, save it by adding a name and clicking Add Angle. View upcoming runners with the View Runners button.
Step 3 - Check out all your Angle runners in the QT Angles report:
View your daily qualifiers in the QT Angles report
Step 4a - Check 'em out on the racecard (below is a work in progress).
Step 4b - Forgot what the Angle name means? It happens, that's why if you hover over the angle we'll remind you:
It's all very cool, and nearly there. We're going to do something which is largely frowned upon - normally for good reason - and introduce this in 'beta'. That means we know it's imperfect at this stage, but it is close enough to where we want it to allow you to play. More importantly, we need your feedback to iron out any remaining wrinkles. So do have a play if it's your kind of thing.
These items will be rolling out over the next couple of days, so don't panic if you're a Gold user and can't see them right away. I will make an announcement on twitter - follow @geegeez_uk - when they've landed.
I make no apology for the 'shouty' headline. Over the past few years, I've personally invested weeks of effort into creating a well referenced and comprehensive user guide for Geegeez Gold. It now runs to 99 pages. Importantly, it has a list of contents in the front from which you should very quickly be able to find the bit you need.
Please please PLEASE look in there first before asking your question.
If you don't, my customer service - which will always guide you to the relevant page - may occasionally be inflected with language betraying my exasperation! Geegeez is the best racing community in our lands precisely because we give you the wherewithal to support yourselves further than anyone else, and trust in your ability to do that.
I don't believe in spoon-feeding, and I know you (mostly) don't want/need that. We're all about empowerment, through data and through support documentation and videos. On the latter point, I'll be doing some more videos, but my voice is suffering along with just about every other part of me just now, so I'm not exactly sure when. Very soon is my aim.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy this next instalment of Geegeez Gold.
p.s. if you're not a Gold'er and never have been, you can take a £1 month trial here. Former Gold subscribers may re-subscribe through the same link. Good luck!
27th July Update
A quick update as at 9am on 27th July. The following are now live:
- Racecard menu filters
- Racecard 'by time' view option
- Draw on Instant Expert
- Option to hide odds on cards
- New style reports for Trainer Stats, Jockey Stats, TJ Combo, HC1, 2yo 1st Start, Trainer Change, Trainer Snippets, Sire Snippets
- QT Angles in Query Tool
- QT Angles report
We have a few known issues, as follows: - Selecting 'show filters' on racecard menu page defaults the view to 'by time'. Will be changed to 'by meeting' - The new reports don't currently have an odds column for the qualifying runners - Selecting 'fractional odds' on My Geegeez displays decimal odds. (So does selecting 'decimal odds'!) - We've still to put live the new Trainer and Sire Snippets reports - We've still to put live the QT Angles inline in the racecards
- Odds are missing from the QT Angles report
- We've still to switch over the Report Angles functionality to pull from the new reports
These last two will not be addressed this side of Goodwood. We have a nice stable version of the site just now, so let's not push our luck! I really hope you enjoy, and find utility, in these recent additions.
If you find anything else, please do let us know. Thanks!
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Best_Website_Gold.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngMatt Bisogno2018-07-25 10:01:422018-07-27 08:09:26Gold Upgrades are LIVE...
On 5th July the first of more than two hundred nurseries - 2yo handicaps - programmed for 2018 was staged, at Haydock Park. They are a feature of the second half of the calendar year and, due to the unexposed nature of many of the runners, have often been considered off limits to large swathes of punters.
But nursery handicaps are just like any other group of races: they have distinct characteristics which require a primary focus in certain key areas. Happily, there are plenty of data on which to chew and from which to attempt to draw meaningful inferences.
In this post, I'm going to focus on nurseries since 2014 - four years' worth - and in the UK only. I'll exclude the five races already run in 2018 at time of writing, so we have complete years from 2014 to 2017.
During that time 8618 runners contested 972 races, none of which culminated in a dead heat. There are therefore 972 winners in the sample. Average field size can quickly be calculated as 8.67, meaning plenty of opportunities for each way punters (609 of the 972 races had eight or more runners). Let us try to determine some characteristics which separate the winners from much of the rest of their fields. To do that we'll start with an old adage I heard in my formative punting years, but first some context...
"Back the top weight in 2yo handicaps"
I don't know who first coined this, or why. It is predicated on good sense inasmuch as horses tend to win handicap races in descending order of weight rank. That is, the highest weighted horse wins most often, the second highest weighted horse wins next most often, and so on. But nothing so straightforward was ever missed by the market, meaning backing top weights in handicaps will send you skint quicker than an afternoon playing find the lady on a grubby street corner.
Ignoring those races - amateur riders and the like - where horses are asked to carry in excess of ten stone (the pattern is the same), the below shows the effect of weight carried on win percent in all flat handicaps in UK between 2014 and 2017.
Win strike rate in UK flat handicaps, 2014 to 2017, by weight carried
That is what one might call a pretty robust correlation. More weight equals a greater chance of winning. But here's how that chart looks when expressed as return on investment at starting price...
Return on investment at SP in UK flat handicaps 2014-17, by weight carried
What this basically tells us is that, ignoring the most lightly weighted horses, there is a vague consistency in losses down to around 8-04 (eight stone four pounds). In other words, although more weight equates to more winners, from a betting perspective it amounts to similar losses almost regardless of the equine's impost.
[In the image above, I hovered over a data point merely to illustrate that further intel can be gleaned from these charts; there is no specific relevance of highlighting the 9-13 group of horses].
The above preamble is intended as context for what follows, namely a similar perspective on nursery handicaps. This is how the diffusion of weight affects a horse's chance of winning in such races:
UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17, performance by weight carried [max 9-07]
In the image this time, I've included one of the variables on the left hand side, so you can see I've truncated the weight range at 9-07. This is because there are a handful of runners which carried more than that, some of which won at 100% (i.e. one from one), thus skewing the line.
We can see the trend generally follows the 'all age' flat handicaps superset. Below is the impact of weight on ROI in nursery handicaps, and as can be seen it offers a far less clear picture:
ROI by weight in UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17
Not only do lower weighted horses win less often, they also lose more cash. Meanwhile, at the top end of the weight spectrum, we have a couple of spikes either side of nine stone that creep comfortably north of break even. Of course, in the general sense it's not especially helpful because there's no reason why horses carrying 9-01 should be more profitable than those carrying 9-00: it's just a quirk of the data.
But there is something of an ROI cliff at around the eight stone mark, and horses carrying less weight than that in nurseries can generally be treated with contempt. The reality is that many of them are simply not good enough to ever win such a race, perhaps any race.
Getting back to our "back top weights in nursery handicaps" starting point, the next chart shows win strike rate and return on investment (SP) by weight rank:
Win percent and ROI by weight rank, UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17
Ignoring the obvious outlier (rank #19) with its big priced winner, the blue bars show how win strike rate diminishes as we drop down the weights; and the orange bars show how one would have lost less by sticking to the higher weighted runners.
As interesting as this may (or may not) be, it is academic for those of us looking to butter our bread. As with absolute weight, so weight rank confirms that one will lose money more slowly rather than win money following higher rated, and therefore weighted, horses.
The value of experience in nursery performance
All juveniles intending to run in nursery handicaps must have either won their first two races or run at least three times. In both cases, the lack of racecourse evidence and/or experience can lead to horses improving significantly as they strengthen up and get the hang of things. And, yes, as they are presented with a test for which they might have been bred.
We can examine the bearing this has on nursery handicaps by looking at performance by number of career runs. Here, received wisdom says that a horse's best chance of winning may be when stepping into handicap company for the first time. But the data do not bear that out:
Nursery handicap debutants (0) win at a rate of 10.77%, whereas those having their fourth nursery start or more win 13.1% of the time. Those with intermediate levels of experience win incrementally more. There is then a correlation between amount of handicap experience and an increased win chance. But what of profitability?
Here, an interesting picture begins to emerge, although still somewhat ambiguous. Looking at exchange prices, we can see that not only are those with more nursery experience more likely to win but, unlike those carrying bigger weights, they are also profitable to follow (at exchange prices).
Greater experience in nursery handicaps should be considered a plus for a horse.
The virtue of ratings
Although there are occasional blind spots in the public consciousness such as, arguably, the benefit of experience in nurseries, a better way to get an edge is to create or derive some information not available to the masses. That could be a system, methodology or a set of ratings.
Geegeez Gold publishes Peter May's 'SR' ratings under license and they reveal some interesting things in the context of nursery handicaps. This next chart shows nursery win rate by SR rating rank:
Win strike rate by SR rank, UK nursery handicaps 2014-17
The top rated horse in nursery handicaps in the four year study period won 18.44% of the time for an SP profit of - drumroll please - 0.95 points! While nobody ever went skint taking a profit, an ROI of 0.1% is more for your institutional investors than us profit-minded adrenaline junkies.
But it is a pretty good starting point to look at thing like race distance, weight, going, field size, market rank and class. One needs to be a little careful not to fit the story around the data, but it might be reasonable to assume that shorter distances - and therefore more consistently truly run races - would fare better from a rating perspective (when that rating has both a speed and form element within it). Likewise, perhaps bigger fields should yield better results for the same reason. And, based on earlier conclusions, those carrying more weight may be expected to at least win more often if not show a profit. Finally, perhaps ratings will manifest themselves as a marketable differentiator of class.
SR and Race Distance
Starting with race distance, we get some credence to the 'shorter distances are better' perception, as follows:
Top-rated SR, by race distance, UK nursery handicaps, 2014-2017
The pure sprinters at five furlongs have won almost one in four when top-rated, and have been profitable to back blindly to boot. Indeed, taking all sprint race distances - which I generally classify as seven furlongs or shorter - we see a pleasing hit rate, supported by a solid place strike rate, and a solid ROI:
SR and Weight Carried
Next we can see the distribution of top rated nursery runners by weight carried. Top weight in such races is generally allocated 9-07, and it is interesting (though not altogether surprising) to note the strong coincidence of top weight - which equates to top official rating - and top SR rating.
Distribution of top-rated SR nursery runners, by weight, UK 2014-2017
But what of profitability? Here, an interesting anomaly emerges:
Impact of weight carried on top-rated SR horses, UK nursery handicaps 2014-2017
Those 9-07 horses, with their confluence of top public and private ratings, are notably unprofitable to follow. My assumption for this relates to the public element - that is, officially top-rated - and to the aforementioned 'back top weights in nursery handicaps' mantra espoused by so many for so long.
What is more interesting is that immediately below the top rated/top weighted, there is a full stone range in the weights where backing top SR runners yields both a high strike rate and an SP profit. Nevertheless, I'm not entirely comfortable with discounting the top weights: the pursuit of sustainable profit is rooted in sensible logical analysis. Conveniently discounting strands that don't fit is a surefire way to secure disappointing outcomes thereafter!
SR and Going
I struggled with this one a fair bit when I saw the output. Why? Because there is a correlation in the data that looks plausible. But I just cannot find a way to explain it. Here's what I mean:
Top SR in UK nurseries, 2014 to 2017, by going
The firm ground category consists of six runners, of which none won (as you can see from the above), but five were placed! Good to firm and good ground have produced slightly lower win strike rates than slower surfaces but the place strike rates are broadly comparable, leading to my discomfort in 'conveniently' excluding faster turf.
Lawns on the soft side of good or slower, and all weather surfaces, have been highly profitable. I will leave it to the reader to attempt to justify quick turf runner excommunication...
SR and field size
What of field size? My hypothesis is that bigger fields, and therefore more reliably run races, should yield better results, in terms of profit if not strike rate (there obviously being more horses to beat in the latter case). The data don't really support the hypothesis, however:
We would of course expect strike rate to diminish as the number of runners increases; but the theory of more truly run races leading to better results for top SR horses holds little water, notwithstanding that all runner groups are within fine margins of break even one side or the other. In short, there's little of positive or negative utility in field size.
SR and class
My premise with regards to class is that the ratings may fare better in better class races; the rationale is that in such races, where many unexposed recent winners or good grade placers lock horns, the winner may be underestimated by the market but not by a private handicap (which is, in essence, what any set of 'unofficial' ratings are).
This time the theory does seem to stand a test.
Without wanting to get too unequivocal, there are some strong looking patterns. Actual versus Expected, a measure of the value proposition (more info here), slides in a linear manner from best class to worst, with Class 2 to 4 offering degrees of positive expectation.
In profit terms, all bar Class 5 have made a surplus at exchange odds, and even the 40 point-losing at SP Class 5 fares close to even at exchange prices. A focus on better races looks a beneficial means of deploying the Peter May SR figures in nurseries.
SR and the market
There are so many ways to slice and dice the dataset, and one more is to overlay market information: odds and / or odds rank.
Evs to 2/1
85/40 to 7/2
4/1 to 6/1
13/2 to 10/1
11/1 to 18/1
This is quite interesting, there appear to be three distinct areas: a profitable and high strike rate top of the market; an under-performing mid-market, in both profit and strike rate terms; and a surprisingly robust 'long tail' for those who can suffer losing runs in the pursuit of big winners.
The thirteen winners priced at 11/1 or bigger SP paid an additional 109.94 points at Betfair SP. Even taking out the 50/1 scorer (95 BSP), Celestine Abbey, still leaves 64.94 extra units of profit at BSP. But anyway, if you're backing the rags, why would you exclude the best of them?!
Conclusions / Pulling it all together
From the beginning of July to the end of the calendar year, there is a nursery handicap - or two, or three - almost every day. Knowing how to play the odds specifically for such races is an edge most punters don't bother to look for; and it is one where a few rules of thumb may help separate out a lot of the losing chaff.
The first relates to weight: those horses carrying eight stone or less won less than 5% of the time, and lost a massive 57% of stakes at SP across 356 runners. The story is broadly similar longer term: since 2009, 58 from 1142 were able to win (5.08%) for an ROI of -43.46%. Ouch.
Treat nursery runners carrying eight stone or less with grave suspicion.
In terms of experience, more is definitely better, both in terms of winning chance and profitability. In the four year sample period, it was shown that horses won more often with each additional run in nursery handicaps and, moreover, that with at least two prior nursery starts were profitable to back at exchange prices.
Favour experienced handicappers in nurseries.
So far so generic. But still, using nothing more than a daily paper, you ought to be able to find qualifiers for a system - more than eight stone, more than three prior nursery runs - that has made a profit of 27.46 points at starting price and an enormous 251.9 points at Betfair SP in the four year review period.
How can Geegeez Gold's ratings assist?
We've seen earlier in this article how our SR figures are most effective in shorter races, specifically at up to seven furlongs. Back top rated SR horses carrying more than eight stone at distances of seven furlongs or shorter has yielded 136 winners from 689 runners (19.74%) and a profit at SP of 71.66 points. I don't have the exchange data yet, sadly, but this group includes the two biggest priced winners from the 11/1+ analysis above, those two being worth an additional 51.31 points at Betfair SP. So let's be conservative and call it 150 points profit on 689 bets (21.77% ROI).
I couldn't justify logically leaving those 9-07 top weights out, but if you can, you might be able to replicate the better historical rate of 114 from 585 for 102.67 points at SP. <<< Caveat emptor: you need to be comfortable that there's a legitimate reason to exclude the top weights.
Focus on top-rated SR horses at distances up to and including seven furlongs.
Going was likewise difficult to assimilate: the data say strongly that top-rated SR's perform best on softer than good or all weather surfaces, but there is no obvious reason why faster surfaces should yield lower strike rates and poorer ROI's. Of course, the fact that we geegeez.co.uk licenses the ratings means they are 'black box' to us and, therefore, that we/I cannot discount that there is something in the algorithm to support what those data say. I'm still struggling though...
It may pay to focus on softer turf and all weather...
Those are three solid guiding principles which are worth committing to memory/the notebook:
1. Treat nursery runners carrying eight stone or less with grave suspicion.
2. Favour experienced handicappers in nurseries.
3. Focus on top-rated SR horses at distances up to and including seven furlongs.
For fun, and as something to add to my QT Angles watch list (facility coming soon, I promise!), I'm going to add the following which may make more experienced punters cringe even though I hope I've sufficiently explained/excused/caveated/apologised for each element in what preceded:
- More than eight stone and less than 9-07 (top weight generally)
- Top-rated on SR
- Seven furlongs or shorter
- Softer than good, or all weather
It looks very good, but it may be that the veneer hides something less credible. Please handle with care...
I will personally also manually check for levels of experience when such runners crop up, as we don't currently have such variables in our Query Tool.
Nursery handicaps are a significant part of the flat programme book in the second part of the season, and I hope that the above has offered a few morsels worthy of consideration when playing such races.
p.s. this post was put together primarily with the aid of Geegeez Gold's Query Tool, which enables users to ask questions of our database and to display the answers to those questions in numerous table or chart output formats. Gold subscribers can try Query Tool here.
Slightly misleading title, I guess, as these new elements won't appear in Geegeez Gold until early July, but I wanted to give you a heads up of what we're working on just now.
The video below reveals all or, if you prefer a few words (no pictures), you'll find those below the video...
We're adding the ability to view the summary breakdown. So, for example, if Trainer A had 28 runners in the past fortnight and six winners, clicking the new icon will allow you to see those 28 runners, along with the details of the races - date, course, jockey, finishing position, field size and odds.
Export to CSV
We are also allowing, for the first time, users to download report output to csv. Although we think our parameter tools are a great way of shortlisting the report content you are interested in, some people want to get deep down with the data; now they - maybe you - can.
Query Tool Additions
We're adding some new variables to QT. Specifically, we're adding:
'Wind Count', which is the number of runs since wind surgery (0 = no wind surgery, 1 = first run after wind surgery, and so on).
'DSLR', which is days since last run
'SR Rank', which is the rank of the SR (speed rating) column in the cards. That is, SR Rank = 1 equates to the top rated horse in the race
'Damsire', which is the maternal grandfather (or mum's dad)
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/gold_newstuff.png320960Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngMatt Bisogno2018-06-28 09:08:132018-06-28 09:09:37Geegeez Gold: Feature Updates, June 2018
In today's video presentation, I go through Thursday's 9.20 at Carlisle using pace, draw and form to land on a horse that looks over-priced; and I also reveal a few cool new features which are coming soon...
Watch and listen to the video below!
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/drawchart_context_830x320.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngMatt Bisogno2018-06-06 21:56:502018-06-06 22:01:07Race of the Day 7th June 2018 (plus new bits)
The data suggest that some courses offer a much stronger pace edge than others. However, all the research points to the fact that front runners in 5f handicaps have a definite edge almost regardless of where the race is being run. When I say ‘definite edge’ perhaps I should clarify that front runners win far more often than statistically one might expect.
To recap, when I talk about pace my main focus is the initial pace in a race and positions the horses take up in the opening couple of furlongs. As mentioned before the Geegeez website splits pace data into four groups - Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up. These groups are assigned numerical values – led gets 4 points, prominent 3, mid division 2 and held up 1. When I used to tip ‘back in the day’, I created similar pace figures, but used values from 5 to 1, and also used the last six runs rather than the last four. I don’t think there will ever be a ‘perfect’ method for creating pace figures, but I am sure the Geegeez method is as good as any.
Horses on the Geegeez racecard pace tab (data view) have their last four UK/Ire runs highlighted, with the most recent run to the left and each horse has an individual total for their last four runs. Hence the highest last four races pace total a horse could achieve is 16 (four 4s), while the lowest is 4 (four 1s). This is assuming of course that they have had at least four career runs.
With such an advantage in 5f handicaps it makes sense to investigate ways of trying to successfully predict the front runner. One starting point would simply be to look at the horse’s combined pace figures in the race in question and choose the horse with the highest figure. Let us look at a recent example to help make this idea clearer to the reader. The race was run on the 31st May at Hamilton – it was a 5 furlong handicap with 7 runners. Pre-race the 7 runners had the following pace totals:
5f sprint pace tab example
One difficulty for predicting the front runner in this particular race was that you had three horses at the top with very close figures. Also none of the runners had led a race early in more than one of their last four starts meaning that they were not ‘out and out’ front running trail-blazers. As the race panned out, the three most likely front runners took up the first three positions early on: Jabbarockie led narrowly to Jacob’s Pillow who in turn raced just ahead of Dapper Man. Hamilton’s 5f favours front runners reasonably strongly, as can be seen from the green pace ‘blobs’ in the image, and not surprisingly perhaps the winner and runner up came from these three.
As we can see, this race panned out in a very similar way to how the pace figures had predicted it would. However, correctly predicting the front runner of the top three rated was clearly not ‘a given’. This of course is one of the problems with blindly going for the highest rated pace horse. Having said that, one would expect the highest rated pace horse to lead far more often than the lowest rated pace horse! My aim is to look at this idea in more detail in the future.
For this article I am using a slightly more simplistic approach. I am focusing on the most recent race only. To begin with I looked at horses that gained a pace figure of 4 (by leading early) last time out in a 5f handicap to see what pace figure they achieved in their very next run. I was hoping of course that a decent percentage led early on next time out. Here are my findings:
(next run after leading over 5f LTO)
% of runners
This is quite encouraging with 42.5% of runners leading on their very next start. In addition less than 20% of them raced midfield or further back in the pack early on. At this juncture, it should be noted that horses that were taken on for the lead last time out scored slightly lower in terms of leading next time (led roughly 34% of the time). These are the horses that gained comments such as ‘with leaders’, ‘disputed lead’ etc – for the record these runners still gain a 4 score for these comments.
I then looked at the data for horses that had gained a 4 pace score last time out in 6f handicaps. 6f races are still considered sprints, and the front runner generally has an edge in these races too. However, this edge is less strong than it is over 5f. I was intrigued however to see how the next time out figures panned out – would last time out front runners, lead again? This is what I found:
(next run after leading over 6f LTO)
% of runners
Down to around 1 in 3 who managed to lead next time, although 75% either led or tracked the pace (which I guess can be taken as a positive). The figures for horses that were taken on for the lead last time out again scored lower (just 21% of these runners led next time).
It seems sensible given this initial data to concentrate on 5f handicaps for the remainder of this article. This does not mean we cannot gain a pace edge over other race distances too, but I feel the front running bias works best over the minimum distance of 5f.
My next port of call was to look at horses that had gained a pace score last time out in 5f handicaps of 1 – these are the horses that raced at the back of the pack LTO. I was hoping to see that they predominantly raced at the back of the pack early on in their next run, or at least did not lead early very often. This is what I found:
Pace figure (next run after a pace score of 1 LTO over 5f)
% of runners
Interestingly a pace score of 3 has been achieved the most, although a score of 1 was not far behind. Pleasingly from a research point of view only 8% of runners that were held up at the back LTO scored a 4 and led early on their next start. The stats suggest therefore that horses that gained a 4 pace score LTO in 5f handicaps are over 5 times more likely to lead next time out than horses that gained a 1 pace score.
There are of course many factors that determine how likely a horse is to lead – not just their pace score over their last four runs, or their pace score LTO – but as I have alluded to earlier the pace competitiveness of the other runners in the race. One huge factor that has to be taken into account is the draw at certain courses. If we look at Chester over 5f one can see that it is extremely difficult to lead from a wide draw. In handicaps with 8 or more runners horses from the top third of the draw have managed to take the early lead just 13% of the time. This drops to a measly 7.5% when there have been 10 or more runners. Chester is not unique in that respect either – Beverley in 5f handicaps (10 runners or more) has seen the top third of the draw lead early just 16% of the time whereas the bottom third of the draw has assumed an early advantage 52% of the time. Thus the draw must be factored in at some courses.
I looked next at whether leading in a bigger field made it more likely you would lead next time – my theory being that to lead a bigger field would need more early pace than if you were running in a smaller field. I looked at 5f handicaps with 12 runners or more, and it should be noted that if the race had split into more than one group, I chose the overall leader only. However, the figures virtually matched the overall 5f figures as the table below shows:
Pace figure (next run after leading over 5f LTO in a 12+ runner race)
% of runners
My next port of call was looking at horses that had won a 5f handicap LTO by making all the running – these runners earn comments such as ‘made all’, ‘made most’, ‘made virtually all’, etc. My theory was that horses in form that had led LTO were more likely to lead on their very next start. This time, the data backed up the theory:
Pace figure (next run making all or making most over 5f LTO)
% of runners
For the first time we exceed the 50% mark in terms of horses that lead.
Perhaps at this juncture it is worth elaborating on why being able to predict the front runner in 5f handicaps is worth the effort. It has been noted that front runners win more often than they should statistically, but the key point is that they potentially offer huge profits. Now clearly you are never going to be able to predict the front runner all the time, but the higher percentage you achieve, the greater your chances of making decent long term returns.
Finally in this article I want to offer another approach in terms of trying to predict the front runner in 5f handicaps – this is simply focusing on individual horses that traditionally have shown a desire to lead early. Now, this is likely to limit your potential bets considerably but if you were able to create a list of say 25 such horses you would have a good chance of turning the stats in your favour. Let me look at one such horse – Bosham. At the time of writing (June 1st 2018), Bosham has raced 67 times in his career and has led early in 41 of those races – this equates to 61.2% of the time. We can improve upon this by digging a bit deeper into his record: it improves to 63.8% in 5f races; in 5f races in single figure fields (9 or less runners) this improves to 71.4% (from 21 races); in 5f races running round a bend this improves to 76% (from 25 races).
Bosham last raced on the 31st May at Chelmsford over 5f. This race was also a good example of when the Geegeez pace stats for the last four runs have worked perfectly. These were the runners in the race with their pace totals:
Bosham was a very likely leader on a speed-favouring track, and prevailed at 7/1
Bosham looked the most likely front runner having led in each of his last four starts and so it proved. Of course if you had looked at his career record this would also have pinpointed him as a likely front runner. Another positive was that he had a decent draw in 4 which meant he was close to the favoured inside rail. As it turned out, Bosham led early and went on to win relatively unchallenged at 7/1. For the record the joint-second rated pace runner, Crosse Fire, a 16/1 shot, raced in second early on before fading into fourth in the final furlong.
The data in this article cements the fact that early pace is be a highly significant factor in horseracing, and 5f handicaps in particular. Geegeez Gold offers users the insight for any race within the Pace tab, and subscribers are strongly encouraged to take some time to get to grips with it. Such time investment is quite likely to generate a robust financial return.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/chester_strongpacebias.jpg319830Dave Renhamhttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngDave Renham2018-06-03 19:30:202018-07-03 08:02:16The Importance of Pace in 5f Handicaps: Part 3
We stopped publishing Race of the Day last week, and I know that a number of you miss that daily dissection of a race. To partially fill the breach, I've recorded a video covering today's (Thursday's) Races of the Day, and also the Feature of the Day, Instant Expert.
This video is LOoOoOoNG. Feel free not to watch it all the way through. But you might get a smidge of value from the first ten or fifteen minutes. Naturally, if its sedative quality hasn't rendered you unconscious by that point, you are welcome to persist until the bitter end! I'll let you decide.
Here is the video. I will aim to get briefer and better with these...
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/RaceoftheDaybanner2.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngMatt Bisogno2018-05-23 22:21:352018-05-23 22:21:35A few thoughts on today's racing...
Development of Geegeez Gold into a form provision for all punters, regardless of time, experience or desired level of engagement, is ongoing. From the outset, we've sought to differentiate from other form books by using more visual indicators, and aggregating data for expediency purposes. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Instant Expert view.
More configurability is now yours with Instant Expert v2.0
We recently gave Instant Expert its first nip and tuck - more collagen injection than full cosmetic surgery - by introducing additional filters for time period, race code, and handicaps/all races. And we continue to make progress with the Query Tool, though that has been a little slower than ideal.
Basic charting functionality in geegeez.co.uk Query Tool
The pipeline for Gold development has a long route to travel, flowing as it does from the contents of the darker crevasses of my creaking cranium, via a couple of wildly talented but somewhat maverick developers, into the estuary of our test site, and finally onto the live website here.
We use a few collaboration tools to manage that flow, and in the remainder of this post I will share some of what currently resides there.
But first a warning...
Before I share what next, I need to warn you of the very next thing we're undertaking.
As Geegeez Gold has grown, both in terms of functionality and user numbers, so the requirement for computing power has grown too. Also, time has passed since we kicked this off in 2013, and the server we were using then is no longer up to the job.
We need http2, and fast-cgi, and SSD, and TLS 2.1 and other acronyms that I don't fully understand but have on good authority will enhance both the stability of the site - which, in truth, has been disappointing in the past month or so - and the speed of access for users. Oh, and of course, the new box will further improve security.
It's a hideous job, fraught with peril and, to be blunt, I've been sh!tting myself about doing it for more than two years now. But it cannot be ignored any longer. We are currently in the process of building the new server - a process that has complexity relating to the various inputs we have, as well as code and data challenges, etc etc blah blah.
From your perspective, you just need it to work and, in an ideal world, to work a little faster. Our job is to make that happen. We're on it, and we'll likely be switching in the next fortnight or so. *dons tin hat, and assumes the brace position*
Once we've migrated to the new whizzbang (more whizz less bang, I hope) server, we can get back to the fun stuff. Here's what's in store, though keep in mind that not all of it will necessarily see the light of day: the features we're considering range from 'must have' to Coleridgesque opiate-addled fantasy!
Here we go then...
- Calculate and publish overrounds for races (general excitement level: yawn)
- TJ Combo report: add one year trainer/jockey sub-report (general excitement level: very useful)
- Class Move report: new report, with an option to display class move indicators on racecard (general excitement level: useful)
- Racecard menu filters: only interested in sprint handicaps? See only the races you're fussed about (general excitement level: niche)
- Instant Expert: add draw position (general excitement level: very useful for flat races)
- Instant Expert: create trainer/jockey/sire options, if possible (general excitement level: awesome)
- Ratings pars: calculate and publish ratings pars for course/distance/class combinations (general excitement level: interesting)
And now for something completely different...
Lots of interesting bits there, most of them of interest to Peter but not Paula, or Paula but not Peter, if you see what I mean. Alongside all of that, I am working on a couple of more mechanical features, which are, to be frank, no better than even money to see publication. For interest, then, these are they...
Sprint Handicap Form Cheat Sheet
I recently read an old book called Betting on Flat Handicaps, by Jon Gibby. It was published fifteen years ago and, since then, much of the draw and pace data in the book has become outdated. Luckily for us, Geegeez Gold has permanently current data for both of those elements which, applied to the excellent regimen espoused in Gibby's book, provides a very solid framework for form study in such races.
Nothing about his approach is earth-shattering or rocket science, but all of it represents common sense fundamental principles. Gibby, who focuses primarily in sprint handicaps, goes about eliminating a section of the field based on where they are drawn. For the remaining runners he digs into the form book. See, I told you it wasn't rocket science. That it is effective should not be surprising.
I've been looking at a race or two a day, when I have time, and my results in this 'testing phase' are below.
Very (very!) early days, but a good start
Now, straight off the bat it needs saying that a 40% strike rate is unsustainable, still less when two of those winners were at double digit odds. So let's be realistic here: there's a solid chance of a protracted losing sequence coming next for the test. What I'm looking for in this incubator phase is some sort of affirmation for the process. I want the picks to largely run well, or with legitimate excuses; and I want unbacked winners to generally have been on my shortlist.
If after 50 bets - still a small sample but data-driven betting on racing is usually based on small samples - that's the general feel I'm getting, it'll be time to engage a little more committedly...
So, if the above is the answer - or are the answers - so far, where are the workings out?
My process is as follows:
Here's how I go about it:
For the draw, I go to the draw tab in the race card on Geegeez Gold, and select the going above and below today's official going (e.g. if today's going is good to soft, I'll choose the range good through to soft). I then amend the runner range to be +/- 2 (e.g. if ten runners, I'll select 8 to 12). These ranges are used to get better sample sizes from which to work. Clearly, by being less specific on going and field size I lose a little in terms of direct relevance; but my contention is that this is more than mitigated by the slightly higher confidence levels commensurate with a bigger dataset. I also use 'actual draw', i.e. number of stalls from box 1 after non-runners are considered. Anyhoo...
I then have some data in the IV column on the draw tab. IV, or impact value, is a measure of how much more or less likely something is to happen. In this case, it's a measure of how much more or less likely a horse is to win when drawn in stall x based on the total population of runners in the sample.
I add that IV number to my spreadie and then, in an attempt to even out the individual starting stall IV's, I take an average of the stall and its immediate neighbours. That is, for stall 1, an average of stall 1 and 2; for stall 2, an average of stalls 1 to 3; for stall 6, an average of stalls 5 to 7; and so on. To that, I add a little crass colour coding (what can I say, I find colour a very powerful visual aid...!)
It looks a bit like this.
Colour-coded average draw IV's
The colour-coding is a bit rough and ready, and I'm obviously trying not to cherry-pick. That is, it makes no sense, for instance, to infer a positive impact from horses in stalls four and six, but negative impact for the horse in the stall between them. We need to be a little 'real world' here and look for general patterns. The averaging thing helps to some degree, but there remains inference in the process.
So, in the example above, I have a primary draw focus on those in stalls one to five. Note how the middle draws have fared less well historically in this example. The winner here was drawn five and, if I'd looked solely at individual draw, stall five's IV of just 0.42 would have put me off. Even in this case, it remains daft to say that five is green/good while six is red/bad. With the exception of some tracks where stall 1 is a negative, it is generally the case that there is a steady diffusion of goodness/badness rather than absolutely/arbitrary cutoffs. But this is punting, and we need to take a view!
I'm not certain I've got the best approach to evaluating draw, and that's a comment which applies even more to my current method for trainer form. Here, I'm taking an average of the IV's for each trainer's 14 day, 30 day, course 1 year and course 5 year form. The problem here is that there is a very obvious 'related contingency': in plain English, the trainer's 30 day form includes his 14 day form, and the trainer's five year course form includes her one year course form. So that's probably wrong. It might be better to add the average of the 14/30 to the average of the C1/C5, or to take an average of those two averages.
Moreover, I'm not currently factoring in the contextual form elements, such as trainer's form with e.g. sprinters, or first run off a layoff or handicap first time, etc. That, too, is probably wonky.
Nevertheless, I have some data, which gives me a view of trainer form, and looks like this:
An approximation of trainer form is useful ballast
Step 3 is to profile the pace in the race. How much is there overall, how is it spread across the field, and what are the individual horse's pace profiles?
All of this can be gleaned very quickly by sorting the runners on the pace tab by draw. Here is how our example race looked on the pace tab:
Pace tab shows overall pace profile, historical performance, and individual pace preferences
There is a lot of information in this view.
First, in the green box, I've highlighted the historical pace performance of the different early run styles - with the going and runner ranges extended as discussed previously.
Second, in the blue box to the right, I've highlighted the runners' average pace score for their last four UK/Irish runs (4 - led, through to 1 - held up).
And third, the view is sorted by draw (see left hand orange box) to give a visual perspective on how the pace might play out, based on the recent history of the runners in the field. In this case, there looked to be a bit of pace competition both high and low, where our draw research ssuggested those drawn on the flanks had the best record. Moreover, those who raced prominently or mid-division had fared marginally best in this sample (see the coloured blobs in the highlighted green box), though there seemed little in it.
That draw/pace profile hinted at Muscika, Black Isle Boy and My Name Is Rio.
The final piece in the puzzle is horse form. Clearly, this is a significant piece and, once the field has been whittled using draw and/or pace, the focus is keenly on what the animals have done. Trainer form is probably the least considered element at this stage in my testing, unless a handler is obviously bang out of, or in, form. [Trainer form is also the element which needs most further scrutiny just now, in terms of how I measure it].
I use Instant Expert, Full Form and the Card tab for the horse form part, and it feels like the one component which will be quite difficult to automate.
Here's how the key components of my 'race card' looked in the spreadsheet [click the image to expand it].
Pulling all the elements together offers a pretty solid understanding of which horses have value chances
Looking back on this I probably got the pre-runner pace profile colouring wrong. It is generally my preference to favour early pace, as I have done here; but the historical profile suggested a slightly more restrained ride was often the way to go, and so it proved. Fortunately, there was enough in Black Isle Boy's favour - especially at the price - to have a small interest anyway, though I feel I was somewhat lucky rather than good in this instance.
Why are you telling me this?
I mention all of the above for two reasons. One, a bit like the 'secret' to weight loss being diet and exercise, there is no secret to form study. It involves pulling all, or as many as possible, of the salient factors into a melting pot of deliberation. It takes time and effort, some of which can be automated.
Which segues nicely onto reason two: all of this content exists within Geegeez Gold, which means the process of automation is within our/my control. It's on the wish list!
2. A R-r-r-r-r-ating?!
Ratings are tricky. Super tricky. There are times and places when they're of huge utility, and there are other times when, in my opinion, they offer little to no value. For example, what use is a speed rating if the race looks likely to be run at a crawl? And what use is an ability rating if it fails to account for the specific race conditions on the day?
The best rating would accommodate such considerations and more besides; and it would learn to refine its number set as more evidence is presented. In point of fact, that's largely how Peter May's ratings, which we proudly carry here on Geegeez Gold, are derived.
And, in a weak moment, I got it into my noggin that I might create my own set of figures. Actually, it's a recurring thought. But I know that this would become somewhat sisyphean (I'd love to name a horse, Somewhat Sysiphean!) - it would be a life's work, and one almost certainly doomed to ignominious failure.
In spite of holding that contention in my saner moments, I did draw up the first (extremely) rough draft of 'ground zero' for a rating set. Here is it. Click for a full size view, and feel free to make a comment below. But please don't ask questions!!
Some 'fag packet' thoughts on how a rating set might be constructed. Not. Straightforward.
So yes, oodles in the pipeline, some of it nearer / more realistic than others; all of it obliged to follow on from the major infrastructure work we're currently undertaking. It's going to be another exciting year ahead!
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/pipeline.png320830Matt Bisognohttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngMatt Bisogno2018-05-02 12:10:232018-05-02 14:37:05Gold: What We're Up To...